In 50 years, the UAE has made remarkable progress in numerous and diverse fields, ranging from AI to health care and leaps made in the national space programme. However, there is more that can be done to harness industrial growth and manufacturing within the country.
Earlier this year, at the World Government Summit in March, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, said that the industrial sector is key to the country. Speaking candidly of the lessons derived from the pandemic and laying a roadmap for local supply chains, Sheikh Mansour spoke of how the pandemic had highlighted how few sources of food and medicines were produced in the Emirates. “We have to focus more on the industrial sector and support it even more. We have ambitious projects and we must set the priorities.”
Already addressing this need, the Operation 300bn strategy was launched last year. The growth of small and medium enterprises in the UAE was deemed essential, with a push to expand key sectors, including petrochemicals, plastics and metals, and further develop industrial bases for food, water and health care.
In line with this strategy, this week’s "Make it in the Emirates" forum in Abu Dhabi outlines further the importance of producing locally and giving a renewed push to manufacturing in the country. The forum, which kicked off yesterday and continues today, was a meeting point for public and private sector players to drive industrial growth. Ambitions to achieve such self-reliance are inherently linked to nation-building and the further strengthening of the UAE's global identity.
As is well known, the UAE is often called a major international logistics hub, thanks to its proven capabilities and geographical positioning, having time and again topped surveys. The UAE is unique in the combination of enablers, like the ease of doing business, strategic location and efforts at reducing costs for business. Now, with the rigorous impetus being given to manufacturing, the UAE is transforming itself also into a centre for industry in the coming decade.
Already the UAE has a vast production output, in areas such as aluminum, defence equipment and polyolefins, used to make plastic, and ceramics. There is in the food sector, Al Khaleej Sugar factory, among several others.
There are over 300 products available in the 11 priority sectors for local manufacturers as “primary targets for localising our industry”, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said at the forum. "Now is the time to step up our engagement collectively within the sector."
With the boost that attracting foreign investment and manufacturing locally will provide to the economy, the country will be set on a sustainable path to progress.
“We have put together all incentives and enablers to help you take advantage of multiple business and industrial opportunities,” Dr Al Jaber told the participants from key entities and companies. “We have brought together with national champion companies who are offering Dh110 billion [$30bn] in purchasing agreements. We must take advantage of this opportunity."
With some great success stories in the UAE of industrial companies thriving, the country's Make it in the Emirates push will further stimulate the local economy. As well as increasing output of locally made products and creating room to local suppliers to multiply the scope of their business, there will be investment in research and development in the UAE, and efforts to incentivise the adoption of advanced technology in the Emirates.
With plans etched out, the UAE already has the roadmap, systems, resources and talent to achieve this goal.